August 22, 2008

Laurent plans to be ready for Memphis

If Ole Miss opened its season today, defensive tackle Ted Laurent would be somewhat limited.

The 6-foot, 303-pound sophomore from Powder Springs, Ga., was having an incredible summer when he injured the meniscus in his left knee during a conditional drill in late July. Laurent just returned to the practice field late last week and he's been doing a little more each day.

"When I first hurt it, I thought it was just a little knee pain and I'd be back the next day," Laurent said. "It's been so long. I just have to get back in shape. As far as the knee, it's probably 85-90 percent. I can run fast. I can move from side to side. I can't really bend my knee all the way. I can't really squat.

"It's not like I used to be, but it's getting better. I just have to keep rehabbing. If I do that, I'll be back to the way I was. I feel I'm effective, but I'm not ultra-effective. I'm pain-free."

Of course, the Rebels don't play Memphis today. They've got another eight days before the Conference USA-affiliated Tigers come into town for a 6 p.m. kickoff at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Aug. 30, and Laurent feels like he'll be much better by then.

"Right now, I'm on pace for when we play Memphis, if I keep working my leg, I should be close to 100 percent and back to the way I was," Laurent said. "I missed the hitting. That's all. And the speed of the game, I'm kind of behind that a little bit. Give me a few more days to get back in the groove, and everything will be all right. I'm a little behind on conditioning. I didn't do conditioning for four weeks. I've just got to be back to it."

Laurent played in seven games last season but did not record any statistics. Still, in the spring, he won the starting job opposite Peria Jerry. When Laurent was injured in July, the Rebels countered by moving defensive end Marcus Tillman inside to defensive tackle, presumably opening a starting spot for supremely talented defensive end Greg Hardy.

However, camp has not been kind to the Rebels' defensive front. Hardy will miss several weeks after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot and Jerry is out for a few weeks after having surgery Monday to repair his torn meniscus.

"I felt it was more important (to get back quickly)," Laurent said. "I was a starting defensive tackle when I got hurt. So now that Peria and G-Hard are gone, I have to step my game up a little."

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